Choosing Your Home Renovation Contractor: Beyond the Licensing
You’ve at last decided to change your home. Whether an interior or exterior renovation, you and your family are geared up for a remodeling project that will redefine your space and recreate how you’ve always looked at your house. First thing’s first, you want a home renovation contractor that will not only get the job done, but one who will pay attention to the process, one who has a solid investment in his/her company and one who in five years will still be around to address any questions or issues that you might have.
So how do you interview and consequently choose that ideal contractor for your big project. After all, this is your home, this is probably the biggest investment of your life; you want to ensure that the professional to whom you award the contract has the know-how, experience and vision to handle your home renovation project with the kid gloves it deserves.
Here is a brief, albeit essential guide to finding and qualifying the home renovation contractor you are going to have tackle your remodel.
Their Background: From Cradle to Home Renovation Contractor
Okay, perhaps you don’t have to go quite so far back, but the point is, you want to know more about them than just what you find in that blurb on a website or from marketing text in a brochure. There are generally two types of home reno contractors—those who get into the profession because of the dollar signs they see, and those who get into this line because they love to build, they can’t wait to create and watch the fruits of their labor materialize into someone’s dream home or space.
In order to seek out the general contractor who’s in it for the right reasons, you may want to ask the following: did they go to trade school? Why might this be important…Knowing something about their training and educational background will give you insight into, not only their level of understanding when it comes to various trades, but also into their commitment to their craft and to learning as much as they potentially can about building and construction. Additionally, you may want to find out if this is a family endeavor; meaning, was this a vocation that their father/mother was in, grandparents? Never underestimate the importance and strength of that generational connection. Sometimes family derived contracting firms can be among the most reliable and long-lived around.
When interviewing a prospective renovation contractor, ask questions about what they know personally as far as the mechanics of construction are concerned. Certainly, people can be contractors without having first hand knowledge of tools, equipment and technique, but usually the home contractors that do have a more in-depth comprehension and skillset tend to maintain a better overall handle on the project and on the components required.
Renovation Contracting Companies: Check Their Business Background
And this isn’t just about checking to see if they are indeed a licensed and insured company, or consulting the Better Business Bureau about their history as a business. While both are important steps, you really want to go beyond the basics here. Yes, you want to use a home renovation contracting company that is good at their craft, that has impeccable references and that understands the nature of construction as it pertains to your specific remodeling project, but you also have to remember that you are dealing with a business. As such, are they as strong when it comes to the business end of things?
For instance, managing employees is a huge part of what makes a contracting company successful. The way in which the principal interacts with those who work for him/her can tell you so much about the integrity and trustworthiness of a company. Management style gives you a glimpse into their accountability, their customer service and their commitment to quality.
And then of course there’s the actual “business” part of the business. That is to say, the basics: budgeting, accounting, forecasting, being diligent about their taxes and insurances. It’s great if your home renovation contractor is super passionate about his/her craft and about all things construction, but they also have to be dedicated to running and operating a business and all that goes along with that. If they neglect the day-to-day when it comes to their financials and paperwork, odds are they’re probably not going to be around for very long.
Contracting by the Book: Understanding Building Code and Zoning Requirements
Prior to beginning any work whatsoever, your contractor needs to have all their proverbial ducks in a row, translation: they need to pull the right permits and take care of the requisite paperwork the town and/or city demands. Again, it’s not just about the hammer and nails here, it’s about an entire process and a major part of the process is the preliminary work required by building and zoning regulations relevant to your area. And then once the project does get underway, they need to have a firm grasp of the building code. The very last thing you want, when all is said and done, is to have failed your inspection because your home renovation contractor did not properly understand what code requires when it comes to stairways, or clearances, or insulation and fire blocking.
This is by no means everything you want to ask/require of your home renovation specialist. But these are things that, beyond what you can gather from the fact that they’re licensed or from their splashy website, you want to make sure you understand about your potential contractor and the way in which (s)he does business.